Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has described today’s UK government Spending Round as a pre-election distraction that fails to provide the long term, sustainable funding public services need.
Based on today’s Spending Round, the Welsh Government’s budget for 2020-21 will still be £300 million lower in real terms than it was in 2010-11.
Despite calls from the Welsh Government, no additional resources have been announced to help Wales prepare for the impact of a potential No Deal Brexit. The ‘fast tracked’ one year Spending Round was introduced following a decision to cancel a long promised 3 year Comprehensive Spending Review. The Welsh Government has stated it does not have faith in the figures underpinning the Spending Round which are based on economic forecasts produced in March and the fiscal rules of a previous administration.
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
Whilst today’s announcement indicates some signs of loosening the purse strings in the short term, it does not make up for nearly a decade of cuts. It won’t come close to providing a sustainable, long term basis on which to plan, something that our public services desperately need.
The UK government is acting irresponsibly by publishing spending plans based on forecasts from March and we cannot have faith in their sustainability. The latest data suggests the UK may already be in recession. A smaller economy means lower tax revenues and makes it likely that this UK government will quickly have to revert to a policy of austerity.
Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement of a further £2 billion for Brexit preparations, Rebecca Evans said:
We have been clear that Wales needs major additional resources to deal with the catastrophic impact of a No Deal Brexit. I pressed the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on this during our meeting last week and there was no assurance this funding would be forthcoming.
We will continue to prioritise the needs of Wales’ economy, public services and communities and will bring forward a budget that protects against the reckless actions of this UK government.
Despite the uncertainty the Welsh Government will bring forward its plans and publish its Budget earlier in order to provide as much certainty as possible to partners and stakeholders and aims to deliver the fairest possible settlement for Welsh public services.